Back in 1974 it was suggested to Bob Cunningham VK3ML over the air that there should be some sort of Old Timers Club in Australia which would allow amateurs to belong to a common cause that would unite hams who have talked to one another for years. Bob took the initiative and talked about such an idea with amateurs who could be interested in such a project. This was not a difficult task as there proved to be so many enthusiasts prepared to join up that plans were made for an early move. The first was to present the idea at a suitable function and to receive ideas. Thus, our first dinner was held on 5th February 1975 at the Sciences Club, Clunies Ross House, Royal Parade, Melbourne. This is the location of the IREE headquarters, Melbourne which made the Club an ideal venue for our needs.Bob chaired the meeting with the able assistance of Ivor Morgan VK3DH, who later became our first secretary. The original idea was to make a qualification for membership of 40 years in the amateur game. However, after all guests had voiced an opinion through the roving microphone, this requirement was reduced to 25 years. Sufficient discussion took place to formulate a constitution upon which to base our Club. It was decided to apply for affiliation to the WIA but this did not eventuate because we were a National body that could not link up with any State division. We were free, therefore, to accept members from all parts of the world. (Eventually the RAOTC became affiliated with the WIA.)
At this dinner we were fortunate in having amongst our guests Alan Butement VK3AD and Max Howden VK3BQ. In the very early days of ham radio Alan was G6TM and made history by establishing contact with Australian amateurs as well as amateurs in New Zealand and, in fact, in many other parts of the world. He spoke after dinner of these early days and the ‘address-in-reply’ was given by Max Howden VK3BQ as one of the original hams to contact overseas stations. This is all history now and we fortunately have a recording on tape of these talks. By the way, about 70 amateurs attended this dinner.
An agreement to form a club was adopted and a committee appointed to administer the Club. This consisted of Bob Cunningham VK3ML (President); Ivor Morgan VK3DH (Secretary); Mervyn Campbell VK3MR; Ray Jones VK3RJ; John Tutton VK3ZC; Les Gough VK3ZH; and Harry Cliff VK3HC.This was the official inauguration of the RAOTC as a Club.
During the following year Bob Cunningham went to New Zealand and met with the Secretary of the OTCZL to learn about the functions of the ZL Club. Also at that time the RAOTC was affiliated with the RAOTA of the UK, an affiliation which continues today.
A constitution was adopted at the first AGM of the RAOTC held at the dinner at the Science Club, Clunies Ross House on 10th March 1976.
In succeeding years, evening dinners were held at the same location in Clunies Ross House.
In 1985 it was proposed to stage a daytime luncheon function, probably in September, to cater for the members who prefer not to travel at night and for country members who may visit Melbourne for a day without an overnight stay at a motel.Monthly radio hook-ups were held on the first Monday in the month on 7120 kHz from Fred VK3OL at 1000 hours and on 14.150 kHz from VK6HC at 1200 hours. Fred commenced his broadcasts on 3rd October 1978.
The Club member’s certificate was originally designed and produced by Les Gough VK3ZH.
The first issue of OTN (Old Timers’ News), the Journal of the RAOTC, was published in March 1985 with Max Hull VK3ZS as the editor. It was published annually until 1992 when it became a biannual publication published in March and September of each year.Sadly, all of the gentlemen named above who were instrumental in the formation of the RAOTC are now Silent Keys.
Here is a link to a talk at the first RAOTC Dinner in 1974.